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Spatial and Temporal Structures in Attosecond Light

   Department of Physics

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  Dr Emilio Pisanty  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Advances in laser sources over the past three decades have allowed us to push nonlinear optics into extreme, highly non-perturbative regimes where large numbers of photons interact with matter and each other, often merging into high-order harmonics of the driving laser source and producing ultrafast light pulses lasting for mere attoseconds [1]. In recent years, particular interest has been focused on the use of driving fields with nontrivial structure to drive high-harmonic generation (HHG), including beams with helical wavefronts carrying orbital angular momentum [2] as well as more intricate architectures involving spatial and temporal dependence of the polarization of the light beam.

These ideas have surfaced many useful features of HHG and ways in which the harmonic emission can be given spatial structures that can push microscopy and lithography to new and more powerful regimes [3] – but they have also led us to find a treasure trove of novel properties and aspects of light itself, including new topologies [4], new forms of angular momenta [3], and even completely new physical quantities [5].

Your project will expand and deepen this two-way street, using concepts and constructions from the field of structured light to design novel sources of light, while at the same time using the unique vantage point of ultrafast physics to find new structures and properties of light itself. You will design driving-field configurations, calculate the resulting harmonic emission, and analyze its properties, and you will outline and flesh out protocols for characterizing its nontrivial aspects. You will also work extensively with polychromatic structured light beams, with the aim of identifying novel structures and finding the correct quantities and modes of analysis to bring those structures to the forefront, as well as designing experimental configurations where your theoretical work can be implemented.

The activities involved in the project will include:

·      Theoretical analysis, using analytical and numerical methods, of high-harmonic generation in structured driving fields, as well as related attosecond-physics processes.

·      Design of novel field configurations, analysis of their properties, and discovery of their applications.

·      Development and optimization of software for numerical calculations.

·      Collaboration with experimental groups to propose new experiments and analyze existing data.

·      Attendance of conferences, workshops and summer schools.

For further information about the project, please email [Email Address Removed].

Candidate Requirements:

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:

Prospective candidates will be judged according to how well they meet the following criteria:

·      A first-class honours degree to second class honours upper division (2.1) in Engineering, Physics or Chemistry

·      Excellent English written and spoken communication skills see

·      A background in quantum mechanics or optics

·      Fluency with analytical methods of theoretical physics and ability to apply mathematical skills to analyze and solve problems

·      Ability to formulate and test hypotheses and to generate and analyze numerical data

·      Ability to effectively communicate research findings

The following skills are desirable but not essential:

·      An interdisciplinary degree, or experience outside of main degree topic

·      Experience in working in a research environment

·      Basic knowledge of strong-field physics and attosecond science, including high-harmonic generation and related processes

·      Basic knowledge of structured light, including phase- and vector-vortex beams as well as other types of polarization structuring

·      Knowledge of Wolfram Mathematica or other computer algebra systems

·      Ability to program in one or more programming language, such as Wolfram Language, python, Julia, C++, etc.

Start date: October 2022

For enquiries please contact: Dr Emilio Pisanty, [Email Address Removed]

For full information on how to apply:

The Physics department at King’s College London supports Diversity and Equality and we invite all eligible candidates to apply.

The Physics department at King’s College London was awarded the Silver Swan medal and Juno Champion award from IOP:


1. D. Villeneuve. Attosecond Science. Contemp. Phys. 59, 47 (2018). JASLab eprint.
2. C. Hernández-García. A twist in coherent X-rays. Nat. Phys. 13, 327 (2017).
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